Name: Austin Kinsey
What you Write: Mystery & Speculative Fiction
Agent: Amanda Jain
Why BookEnds? Amanda showed a sincerity and candidness that I think is hard to find when navigating literary agencies.
What book do you wish you had written, and why?
Definitely Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson. I read it two summers ago and I thought it was a master class in setting and ambiance. I just loved Ishmael as a character. In a mostly good way, it’s the kind of book you read and think, yeah…I don’t know if I’m really cut out to be a writer.
If you’re not reading or writing, what would we catch you doing?
Either playing/watching soccer or catching up on grading papers. Surprisingly, when I assign work in class, I’m the one who has to grade it. Still trying to figure that one out.
Where can readers find you on the web and social media?
Twitter: @kinseywrites is the best place for writing stuff, B-grade social commentary, and funny anecdotes from my school day.
What’s the last book you read?
This is cheating since it’s not the last one I read, but I recently finished Paul Tremblay’s The Cabin at the End of the World and I just flew through it. Such a fun and unsettling story about delusion and the apocalypse—or neither, depending on how you see the ending.
The actual last book I read was Dennis Lehane’s Prayers for Rain. In high school, the Kenzie and Gennaro series was my first foray into detective novels, and there aren’t a lot of writers who create characters with such distinct voices. I love coming back to them.
If money were no object, what would be your dream writing location?
I’d say somewhere seaside, but I worry that’s cliché. A place with coffee and a little ambient noise would do just fine. If that happens to have an ocean side view, so be it.
What’s your favorite quote about reading or writing?
Stephen King says, “Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.” I’ve always liked this idea, mostly because I find myself falling in the trap of saying too much, doing too much work for the reader. “Kill your darlings,” however many times it’s been said seems to apply here as well.
What’s your favorite piece of writing advice you’ve received?
It came from Mrs. Reynolds, my third grade teacher, when she said that writing isn’t schoolwork—it is life work.
What excites you most about joining the BookEnds family?
I’m looking forward to the collaborative nature of BookEnds. Everybody is a specialist on their own, but they offer something unique with their team approach.
What advice would you give to other authors in the query trenches? If you are the only person who has seen your query, then it isn’t ready to be sent to agents. I think there’s this innate fear of sharing it with someone, especially since you’ve spent months or even years creating this story from nothing. Condensing all of that good stuff into 200 words can be daunting and can lead to including extraneous information that you think is necessary—information that you will defend until you’re out of breath—when it’s really just stuff the people who don’t have intimate experience with your manuscript couldn’t care less about. Your prospective agent should be the last one to get your query, not the first.